The planet Venus is a moderately sized terrestrial planet in the Terran System, closest neighbour to the planet Earth and commonly regarded as Earth's twin planet, being of similar size, mass, and composition and, since terraforming, similar atmosphere and biosphere. Venus is the second planet from the Terran sun, Sol and the first planet to be terraformed by the United Nations of Earth. Venus has only been fully habitable since the year 2491; but in that time it has become a prosperous colony of Earth, with a population of a little over 1 billion people, mostly located on the northern continent of Ishtar and the southern continent of Aphrodite.
Venus shares many of the trades that Earth is known for, but has a much greater emphasis on the sciences. Many Venusians (as many as 42 percent) are scientists themselves (some having been resident on the planet since before the terraforming process was completed) or work in supporting roles for scientific endeavours, which has made the planet into a haven for various kinds of research, all the more so since the Space Colony ARK was destroyed. However, many other industries have had a chance to establish themselves in the two decades since the planet was opened up to immigration from Earth, most notably spacecraft manufacturing. There are a number of orbital shipyards over Venus where military spacecraft have been built since 2505. Although Venus's population rose only steadily in the first decade, many people from Earth sought refuge there during the Union-Imperial War between 2505 and 2508, leading to a sudden surge in the planet's population. Although some returned to Earth after the end of the war, as many as 51 percent remained on Venus.
For centuries, Venus was believed to be similar to the primordial Earth. But, whatever the future may have held for Venus as it developed naturally, it was an inhospitable place, with a surface temperature of over 462 degrees centigrade (hot enough to melt lead) and a carbon dioxide atmosphere so dense that the earliest probes from Earth were crushed during re-entry or shortly after landing. Settling Venus would be impossible without first dramatically altering its environment; as such, Venus was passed over for Mars in the earliest colonial efforts in space. It was not until after the Great War and the unification of Earth that serious thought was given to the terraforming of Venus -- a difficult task, but ultimately not impossible.
The process of terraforming began in 2391. A combination of industrial and biological methods were used to thin out the Venusian atmosphere, lowering the surface temperature and atmospheric density to levels tolerable by Terran species. Genetically modified algae and primitive plant species were then gradually introduced to produce oxygen and water, steadily making the air breathable and generating rainfall to produce lakes, rivers, and, eventually, oceans. Additional water was introduced by diverting icy comets to impact the planet in the earliest stages. By the 2470's, much of Venus was traversable without EVA suits and, by 2488, the entire planet was certified as safe for Terran life, leading to the government opening Venus up for (closely regulated) settlement from 2491 onwards.
Because Venus is closer to the sun than Earth, the climate is generally a few degrees warmer. Most of the planet ranges between subtropical and tropical, compared to Earth, and there are no permanent polar ice caps; what sea ice develops is seasonal only. Moreover, seasons on Venus are characterised less by the planet's axial tilt and more by the planet's extremely slow, retrograde rotation. A single Venusian day lasts 243 standard Earth days, which is longer than the Venusian year (224.7 Earth days), which required planetary engineers to genetically modify all plant and animal species introduced to survive the approximately 121.5 days of darkness each rotation. Residents of Venus have adapted to the long periods of day and night, but visitors to the planet can sometimes find the experience disorientating. Venus also has no moon, which means that tides are not experienced in the same way as on Earth (or even Mars, to a much lesser extent); however, the warmer Venusian climate does generate much more powerful storm systems, which can result in storm surges similar to high tides on Earth.
Like Mars, Venus has a much narrower biosphere than Earth, due to all life forms having been artificially introduced. Moreover, most of the plant and animal life introduced on Venus had to be genetically engineered for life in extended periods of light and darkness, resulting in an even narrower biosphere than Mars. However, this has resulted in certain unique sub-species of plants and animals that can be found only on Venus. Nevertheless, many crops grown on Venus tend to be grown from unmodified seeds, and are planted and harvested either during the Venusian daytime and stored up for the night, or are planted and harvested throughout the entire Venusian day cycle, with specially designed sunlamps for night-time, depending on the policy of the farming company. Opinions differ as to which method is better and research is ongoing.
Venus is one of the five classical planets known since antiquity, having once been the brightest object visible in the night sky after the moon. Appearing in the sky shortly before sunrise or shortly after sunset, Venus became known as either the Morning Star or Evening Star, names that are sometimes still used in a poetic sense. Since terraforming stripped Venus of its dense and highly reflective acid cloud layers, its apparent magnitude has changed, reducing its brightness considerably, leaving the planet Jupiter as the second brightest object in the night sky.
Like most planets in the Terran system, Venus is named after one of the gods of the Roman pantheon, the goddess of love -- making Venus the only Terran planet to be named after a female character from mythology. Venus is sometimes referred to as New Earth or Terra Nova, as well as Sol II or Terra II.
When it was claimed as a territory of the United Nations of Earth, Venus was placed under the jurisdiction of the Department of Colonial Affairs under the Ministry of Space, where it remained throughout the terraforming process. A Senate oversight committee was established to give Parliament authority over the project, but most day-to-day governance of the territory was handled by the DoCA until 2490, when the planet Venus was officially declared a Colony of the United Nations of Earth, effective from January 1, 2491. Over the following decade, Venus was divided into administrative districts as required by population, which became unofficially known as "states". As of 2503, there are 17 Venusian "states", each with their own elected governments.
However, prior to 2511, these were not recognised as full member states of the United Nations of Earth, but as subdivisions of a colony, and were not fully represented in the United Earth Government. But, with the unification of the Terran System under the Terran Union, the colonial government of Venus is to be dissolved and each of the 17 administrative districts are to be made into full member states of the Terran Union.
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